Last Sunday was kind of perfect. Grey and cold outside, I spent the day inside, warm and cosy, a slow day with soft light, not getting out of my pyjamas, the smell of coffee, and my favourite person hovering over their laptop trying to get things done while I baked blondies and drank tea, and also a bath, and naps, and copious episodes of friends.
I’ve never had blondies before, but my parents got me the Violet Bakery Cookbook for my birthday, and I was itching to try out one of the recipes. The whole entire book is just beautiful, and all of the recipes seem straightforward, and look and sound delicious. The cakes and bakes, savoury and sweet, are rustic and very, very pretty, with, heavy emphasis on flavour over fancy (i.e. not a single decorative and fussy but ultimately dry and boring cupcake in sight). And the photos are gorgeous.
I decided to only add caramel shards to half of the pan of blondies, because I was a bit worried I may have made the caramel a tiny bit too dark. I don’t think so after all, now, but I’m glad I tried it, because the result was two very distinct kinds of blondie, one akin to chewy salted chocolate chip cookies (!!!!), and one a tad more sophisticated, but also a bit sweeter.
I personally go back and forth between which version I prefer (I was eating them for three days, so I had plenty of time to reflect on the matter), and those I’ve made to try them have been split down the middle, too. I guess it depends, then, on what you’re going for – a blondie that’s a tad more decadent, and a bit more impressive, with chewy pockets of butterscotch, or one that is basically just a giant chewy salted chocolate chip cookie. I just don’t know. Luckily I made both 😈 I think I may also try a version with both milk and dark chocolate chips and hazelnuts.
What I’m getting at is that this is a very, very yummy blondie. One that I will definitely make again. It’s rich, dense, chewy, and best eaten in small amounts, but you’d be surprised at how quickly you can finish off the entire pan…. Like my mum said, sarcastically, does this contain any butter? 😏
And, unlike a cookie, which I prefer completely fresh out of the oven for that perfect crisp to chewy-gooey ratio, I actually liked these blondies even better the next day, after they’d had time to really chewify (yes, I may have made up that verb).
They keep really well for days, too (three days tops though). Happy munching! 🙂
- 250 g (1 cup + 1 tbsp) unsalted butter (if you only have salted, simply half the amount of salt used below), plus a bit for greasing the cake tin
- 2 eggs
- 300 g (1 3/4 cups) light brown sugar (I used cane sugar)
- 1 ½ tsp vanillla extract
- 240 g (1 3/4 cups) flour
- 1 1/4 tsp baking powder
- 1 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
- 125 g (4 ½ ounces) milk chocolate , broken/chopped into smaller pieces
- 75 g caramel shards (if using): 2 tbsp water + 150 g caster sugar*
* This makes 150 g of caramel shards, i.e. twice the amount needed for one portion of butterscotch blondies, and in my case, since I made only a half portion with caramel, four times the amount needed; although you can keep the caramel shards in the freezer for future use, I think you’d be ok to half the amount of water and sugar, though, and only make one half portion – I will try this out next time.
For the caramel shards:
Cover a large baking sheet with greaseproof paper. Make your caramel shards by placing the water and sugar in a heavy-bottomed pan over medium to low heat. Don’t stir, just let the sugar start to dissolve. Once it does, increase the heat to medium-high, still not stirring, to avoid crystallisation. Watch the mixture closely as it begins to darken (if some of the sugar isn’t melting properly, give the pan a gentle twirl to distribute the melting sugar a bit more evenly).
When the bubbling caramel is a deep dark golden brown, carefully pour it onto your greaseproof paper. Twirl the baking sheet around until you have a thin, even layer of caramel. Leave to cool completely, then break into smaller pieces, either (carefully) with a knife, or by scrunching the greaseproof paper with your hands. If not used more or less right away, place in a container or freezer bag and place in the freezer, as it will go sticky and soft quite quickly.
For the batter:
Grease a 20×30 cm baking tin, and line with baking parchment; preheat your oven to 160°C/320°F.
Chop the milk chocolate.
Melt the butter (either in the microwave for just under a minute or in a small pan), and set aside for a moment.
In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar and vanilla until pale yellow, then whisk in the melted butter.
In a smaller bowl, mix together the flour, salt and baking powder, then fold this and the milk chocolate pieces into the egg and sugar mixture with a silicone spatula, just until combined/there are no streaks of flour.
Pour into the baking tin and smooth out with your spatula, then distribute 75 g of the caramel shards evenly on top, if making butterscotch blondies, 35 g over half of the batter if making half/half, and none, if making simple chewy chocolate chip blondies.
Bake for 30 minutes, until they are golden and set but still a little soft and gooey in the middle.
Let cool completely before cutting into pieces (although I did yield and have some while they were still warm 😉 ).
Keep leftover blondies well-covered in the tin, or in an air tight container. They travel very well, and keep for about three days, should you decide not to share them with anyone else.